January 30th: Casablanca

casablanca

Release Date: 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
Why I picked this: Because “Casablanca”

As you can probably tell by my selection of movies, I’m a little biased towards more recent ones. I’ve seen a good amount of them, favorites including “The Maltese Falcon,” “Citizen Kane,” and “Double Indemnity,” but while I’ve always admired them, I never particularly enjoyed them. Maybe I just have a sharper eye and perspective now, but I really liked “Casablanca.” It’s a layered tale filled with romance, drama, politics, and World War II undertones. My favorite scenes usually involved the crowded cafe where most of the important scenes take place. The inhabitants are diverse and fill the screen with life, with the camera moving from conversation to conversation. Too few movies today are as alive as this one. At the forefront of the movie are Humphrey Bogart, probably the most famous leading man in America, and Ingrid Bergman as the two leads. Bogart, usually playing hardened characters, plays a similar type of character, with the biggest difference being that this is a more romantic role, and he is entirely believable. It is evident why he was so prominent in his time from this movie, as he is charismatic, and delivers some of the more memorable lines not only in the movie, but in movie history.  The cast overall is great, with some recognizable film icons from the era, such as Claude Rains, Sydney Overstreet, and Peter Lorre. Paul Henreid plays the husband of Ingrid Berman’s character, and while he is meant to be a strong, even heroic figure, he may have been the most boring main character in the film. There are some very striking images in this movie; I especially loved the use of shadows and silhouettes in this movie, and whenever the camera would solely focus on Ingrid Berman’s character, the image would look very soft. These are some visual elements that I think are more effective with black-and-white cinematography. The romantic aspect of the movie is a bit cliche, but still very classic and simple. The two characters are likable enough for the audience to care. There is a good use of music, with “As Time Goes By” being embedded into your memory before the movie ends, and there are visual effects used, mostly for depicting airplanes and the larger city. They aren’t particularly bad, but they are fairly obvious.

Great camerawork,  great composition, memorable images and quotes, a lifelike feel, and the acting from its leads make this movie a classic.

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